WFP steps up food distribution in Somalia

08:56, March 09, 2011      

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The UN World Food Programme (WFP) and its partners said Tuesday they begun an emergency distribution of food to an additional 50,000 people in Mogadishu in response to the drought gripping much of the country. "WFP and its partners are doing all we can to feed the hungry – especially women and children - who have been forced from their homes by a combination of drought and conflict," Stefano Porretti, WFP Somalia Country Director said.

"They are caught in the middle, squeezed on all sides, and need our support," Porretti said in a statement issued in Nairobi. The additional food, consisting of high energy biscuits, fortified with vitamins and minerals, was distributed at 20 camps on the outskirts of the capital.

The distribution followed an assessment by WFP and the Danish Refugee Council and Norwegian Refugee Council of the needs of displaced families forced to move closer to the capital because of the drought. The UN agency said it urgently needs 46 million US dollars to feed 1.2 million people in Somalia for the next six months. "We have already reduced the size of rations for vulnerable groups including the displaced in Mogadishu because of the shortfalls," WFP said.

"As well as providing high energy biscuits to an additional 50, 000 people in Mogadishu, WFP will work with its partners to open new centres providing cooked meals in or near camps for displaced people," the UN agency said. It said these new centres will be in addition to 20 feeding centres that WFP supports across Mogadishu, feeding a total of 85, 000 people each day.

Fighting between Somalia's Transitional Federal Government and Al-Shabaab Islamic militants in the southern Belet Xaawo area has driven thousands of Somalis from their homes as well as some 5,500 residents of the Kenyan border town of Mandera, while a flare-up of conflict in Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, has displaced 4,400 people in the last nine days, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

According to ambulance services and hospital sources in Mogadishu, 62 civilians have been killed there and 232 others wounded in the last two weeks, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). According to WFP, the total number of people being fed by the UN agency in Mogadishu now stands at 240,000. WFP is feeding 710,000 people in central and northern Somalia because of drought, conflict, rising food and fuel prices.

The recent fighting in Belet Xaawo and Mogadishu has hindered aid deliveries, the Office added, with none taking place at all in Belet Xaawo at the moment as the security situation remains tense.

The drought in Puntland, northern Somalia, continues to deteriorate, with water shortages reported in many parts, and drought-affected people are still moving into Mogadishu, but at a lower rate due to the recent surge in fighting, OCHA stated. Both UN agencies and national bodies are bringing in water.

In the past week WFP delivered 1,470 metric tons of mixed food to 168,600 people through emergency school and institutional feeding and general food distribution.

In central regions, it is collaborating with eight non- governmental organizations (NGOs) to support some 18,200 malnourished children and pregnant and lactating women. Somalia has lacked a functioning central government since 1991 and had been plagued by factional fighting ever since.

Source: Xinhua
 
 
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